Women Scientists Study

July 16, 2017

I wrote about our study of women scientists way back in 2015. We have completed all but the Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie, and Wrap-up lessons, but I thought I would share the entire study here. This was written with my then 4th grader in mind. (I know the formatting is a headache–I just copied and pasted this from my personal notes. Reproducibles included as pdfs.)

Enjoy.

 Women in Science

        Overview

We will look at a few women scientist who worked in areas related to several different areas of science.

        Objectives and Life Skills

  • Read and summarize nonfiction text.
  • Watch and summarize non-fiction film.
  • Analyze and summarize visual imagery.
  • Define what a scientist is/does.
  • Note the scientific method and women’s issues in each story.
  • Complete an activity related to each scientist’s field.
  • Extract DNA
  • Observe and sketch a microscopic sample.
  • Do a nature study in a cedar glade.
  • Test and compare different models of paper airplanes.
  • Make a simple robot.
  • Attend watershed program and park clean-up day.
  • Create products about each scientist/topic.
  • Handwriting
  • Typing
  • Photography
  • Drawing
  • 2d and 3d works
  • Use knowledge/skills to independently investigate an additional women scientist of choice.
  • Reflect on information by writing/illustrating about procedures and responses to activities.
  • Publish products and reflections.
  • Plan an event. 
  • Teach others in-person.

Introduction

What is science?

What does science look like to you.  List or draw those things that remind you of “science”.

 

Draw a picture of what it looks like to DO science.

Who does science?

Write all that you can about WHO you think does science.

Draw a picture of a scientist. Explain your drawing.

Give an example of a job for each area of science:  Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth Science.

 How does science apply to your life?

Write about how science affects you every day.  DOES it affect you every day?

What would you draw to show your life and how science influences it?

 Watch Scientific Method Rap (https://youtu.be/bUa-ilQqEv0)

Introduce “Science reading response dice”, which will be used as a discussion prompt in future lessons:

1=Act out scientific vocabulary.

2=Look up unfamiliar vocabulary words.

3=How is her work relevant to you?

4=Find recent news related to her field.

5=Draw a picture of her work.

6=What are your questions?

Read Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Choose 5 of the following questions to discuss:

  1. Who is the most influential woman you know?  How does she inspire you?
  2. Do you think women have equal rights to men today?  Why or why not?
  3. What types of stereotypes do people have about women?  Why can stereotyping be dangerous?
  4. Do you think men and women are naturally different from one another?  Why or why not?
  5. Think of your favorite television show.  How are the female characters different from the male characters?
  6. Have you ever wanted to try an activity that is considered to be “for girls” or “for boys” only?  Did you try it anyway?  How did you feel?
  7. How can language be discriminatory?  What are some ways you can use words to make your speech more gender-neutral?
  8. Do you consider yourself to be a feminist?  Why or why not?
  9. Does the world need more feminists?  Why or why not?
  10. What are some important contributions women have made to our world?
  11. How can women’s equality help all people?
  12. What traits do the women in your family share?  How have they informed your opinions of what women should be like?

Science has traditionally been a male-dominated field, with some notable exceptions. Women historically faced considerable discrimination in science, much as they did in other areas of male-dominated societies, such as frequently being passed over for job opportunities and denied credit for their work.

We are going to learn about a few women scientists this year.

Introduce “Women’s issues response dice”, which will be used as a discussion prompt in future lessons:

1=What struggles do think she faced as a woman?

2=If you could meet her what would you say?

3=What characteristics helped her to be successful?

4=What do you find inspiring about her?

5=What contribution did she make to the world?

6=Did she face discrimination?

 

I. Rosalind Franklin

1.Read Rosalind Franklin by Lara Anderson

Reader’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to text as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. DNA Extraction and Observation

Strawberry DNA Extraction

  1. Put a bottle of isopropyl alcohol in a freezer. We’ll come back to it later.
  2. Measure 90 mL of water into a beaker or similar container.
  3. Pour 10 mL of dish soap into the 90 mL of water.
  4. Add 1/4 tsp of salt to the liquid in the beaker.
  5. Mix it all up and now you’ve got a homemade extraction solution!
  6. Place one strawberry in a plastic zipper-lock bag.
  7. Pour your extraction solution into the bag with the strawberry.
  8. Remove as much air from the bag as possible and seal it.
  9. Use your hands to mash, smash, and mush the strawberry inside of the bag until there are no large pieces remaining.
  10. Pour the resulting strawberry and extraction solution mixture through a sieve and into a beaker or similar container.
  11. Use a spoon to press the strained bits of strawberry against the sieve, forcing even more of the solution into the beaker.
  12. From the container it is currently in, transfer the solution into a smaller beaker or similar container that holds around 50-100 mL of fluid.
  13. Add 5 mL of your chilled isopropyl alcohol to the solution and hold the mixture at eye level.
  14. Can you see how there is a separation of white “stuff” atop the rest of the solution? That’s the DNA of the strawberry.
  15. Gently remove the DNA from the solution using tweezers. Observe the strand with a magnifying glass and/or under the microscope.

The long thick fibers you pull out of the extraction solution are strands of strawberry DNA. DNA is present in every cell of all plants and animals and determines the genetics of the individual organisms.

While other fruits are soft and just as easy to pulverize, strawberries are the perfect choice for a DNA extraction lab for two reasons: they yield more DNA than any other fruits, and they are octoploid, meaning that they have eight copies of each type of DNA chromosome. These special circumstances make strawberry DNA easy to extract and see. (Human cells are generally diploid, with only two sets of chromosomes.)

To extract the DNA, each component of the extraction solution plays a part. The soap helps to dissolve the cell membranes. The salt is added to break up protein chains that hold nucleic acids together, releasing the DNA strands. Finally, DNA is not soluble in isopropyl alcohol, and even less so when the alcohol is ice cold.

Closer look at DNA

Read Have a Nice DNA (Enjoy Your Cells) by Fran Balkwill

Make a simple model of DNA. Needed: bits and bobbins, your  choice of materials

Question to consider: why make a model of DNA/why do scientists study DNA?

II. Beatrix Potter

1. Read A Victorian Naturalist: Beatrix Potter’s Drawings from the Armitt Collection by Beatrix Potter, Mary Noble

Reader’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work,                                                                 personal response, other(?). Refer to text as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Microscopic Observation

DIY Microscope Sample

Take a sample from around the house or yard and prepare a microscope slide of the sample. https://youtu.be/Zbh7kdE-9Gw http://thehappyscientist.com/science-video/microscopes-making-dry-mount Needed: Slide, wet plate, water dropper, dye and dropper, paper towel

Fill in Microscope Data Sheet

Microscopic Art

Choose an image of a microscopic sample–https://www.pinterest.com/seamyside81/art-under-the-microscope/. Describe what you see. What can you learn from examining this image? What questions do you have?

Choose an image of your sample and use various watercolor techniques (https://youtu.be/K-KYHJriivw) to create an artwork of the image. Be sure to label your work. Needed: watercolor paper, brushes, watercolor paints, various substances to create varying textures

Question to consider: what impact does the microscope have on science?

 

III. Elsie Quarterman

1. Watch Wild Side episode, A Crusade for Conservation (https://youtu.be/vad3qykQH0s)

“Reader”’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work,                                                                 personal response, other(?). Refer to video as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and  either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Nature Study Cedar glades are a unique habitat primarily found in my area so you could replace the following activities with those related to a unique habitat near you.

Plant Identification Preparation

  1. Shuffle set of plant description and color flower cards together and place in one stack.
  2. Each player selects a card from the stack.
  3. To begin to find a match, the first player will either read the plant description card (if that’s what they drew from the stack) or describe the color photograph of their plant on their card to rest of the group (color, number of petals, leaves).
  4. If someone has the plant card that matches, they give their card to that person and both draw another card from the stack. The person who had the match to the first player’s card goes next.
  5. The game continues until all the sets are matched. Players will keep up with the number of matches they each complete.

This is very similar to what a scientist would do in the field with an unknown plant; they will carefully observe the plant characteristics and then match those observed structures with a description in a plant guide book.

Plant Identification in the Field

Go on a hike to a cedar glade. Use a plant id guide and zone graphic to play your bingo card.

Choose one plant to observe closely. Spend several minutes looking at the plant and  also where it is growing (what other plants are near it, what is the ground like where it is growing). On an index card, draw a   detailed picture of the plant and on the other side write information that will help you to identify it in     a plant id guide. Id the plant. When you get home research the lifecycle of your plant and draw and label a  graphic that shows the different stages of life. Also needed: coloring pencils, magnifying glass

Question to consider: why is close observation an important part of science?

 

IV. Fly Girls

1. Read Flying High: Pioneer Women in American Aviation by Charles R. Mitchell

Reader’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Choose one woman to focus on. Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to video as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Aviation at Home

Paper Plane Designs

Use Airplanes KWL Chart to record what you already know about planes and how they fly (they fly through the air, you can make a plane out of paper or metal, etc.) and write what you want to know.

Watch Bill Nye Flight episode (https://youtu.be/JjfPQ4gWBFI) for review on flight. Do the activities they suggest. Needed: balloons, pencils, heavy book, string, tape, 2 ping pong balls, straw, cardboard cereal box, scissors, paperclip

Create 6 paper planes focusing on variation in size of the plane (large, medium, small), weight (light or heavy), and wing structure (long and thin, short and wide, big like a butterfly, etc.). Describe the plane, write a hypothesis about how far your plane will fly, and support your hypothesis with information about your plane.

Launch planes. Use measuring tape to measure the distance that each plane flies in “meters.”

Analyzing Data

Create a chart with the various aspects of each plane (is it large, small, medium, are the wings long, short, etc.) and chart the distance that each plane flies so you can analyze which aspects of a plane make it go farthest.

What do you notice? Which plane flew the farthest? The shortest distance? Did any planes fly the same distance? Was your hypothesis correct?

Complete your KWL chart: What did you learn about how planes fly? Did anything we knew about planes change based on our activity?

Question to consider: what part does variation in design/approach have on the scientific method?

 

V. Cynthia Breazeal

1. Watch The Rise of Personal Robots (http://www.ted.com/talks/cynthia_breazeal_the_rise_of_personal_robots?language=en)

“Reader”’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to video as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Interacting with Robots

Playing with Robots

Building Your Bristlebots (more info at http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Robotics_p010.shtml)

  1. Have an adult help you cut the heads off two toothbrushes. Make sure one toothbrush has straight bristles and one has slanted bristles.
  2. If you cannot cut all the way through the neck of the toothbrush with scissors, you can score it (cut into the surface as far as possible), then bend it back and forth several times to break the head off.
  3. Cut a small piece of double-sided foam tape, about the size of one of your toothbrush heads.
  4. Place one piece of tape onto the back of a toothbrush head, and remove the tape’s paper backing.
  5. Firmly press a vibration motor with leads (the shiny metal cylinder) lengthwise onto the double-sided tape, so that the off-center weight is sticking off the short edge of the tape at the brush end, and the motor’s wires are pointing toward the cut end of the toothbrush.
  6. It is important to make sure that the weight is free to rotate completely, and that it does not get stuck against the tape or the toothbrush.
  7. Firmly press a coin-cell battery with leads (the piece wrapped in yellow plastic) onto the double-sided tape. The battery’s wires should be pointing toward the cut end of the toothbrush, in the same direction as the motor’s wires.

Note: do not remove the yellow plastic wrapper from the battery. It helps keep the wires attached to the battery.

  1. Twist the exposed metal parts of the battery’s black wire and the motor’s blue wire together.

Note: your wires might have short sections of plastic insulation still stuck on the ends, covering the metal parts. You can gently tug on these sections to remove the insulation. Be careful not to pinch and pull too hard, as you might rip the entire wire off of the motor or battery.

  1. Do not twist together the red wires yet. If you do this, your bristlebot will turn on! First, you need to build your second bristlebot and set up a race course.
  2. Repeat steps 2–6 to build your second bristlebot.

Racing Your Bristlebots

  1. One problem with bristlebots is that they tend to randomly buzz all over the place instead of going straight. This makes it rather difficult to race them against each other. To force them to go straight, cut and fold a piece of paper to make two side-by-side “chutes. Each chute should be wide enough that a bristlebot does not get stuck against the sides, but narrow enough that it cannot spin around completely. Be sure you have your finished chute on a flat surface.
  2. Now, get ready to race your bristlebots! For each bristlebot, twist together the exposed metal part of the red wires from the motor and battery. This will cause your bristlebots to start moving, so don’t let them escape!
  3. Important: Make sure the exposed metal parts of the red and black wires from the batterydo not touch each other. This will create a short circuit and cause the battery to overheat and die very quickly. It is okay for the insulated plastic parts of the wires to touch, just make sure the metal parts do not touch.
  4. Pick up your bristlebots and place them side by side in your racing chute, with the cut ends of the toothbrushes facing toward the far end of the chute.
  5. Let both bristlebots go at the same time. Watch closely to see which one makes it to the other end of the chute first.
  6. Record the winner of the race in your lab notebook.
  7. Repeat the race four more times, for a total of five trials. Make sure you record your results.
  8. Optional: Use a stopwatch to record how long it takes each bristlebot to go down the chute. Have a volunteer help if it is too difficult to use a stopwatch and control both bristlebots at the same time.
  9. Analyze your results.
  10. Does one bristlebot consistently win the race?
  11. How do your results compare to your prediction about which type of bristlebot would be faster?

Thinking About Robots

There are many different kinds of robots; they have many different kinds of bodies/ways of moving and can also be controlled by different means.

Read over the robot trading cards. Classify the different kinds of robots by type of movement and autonomy. Also decide if the robot is social, meaning it interacts and communicates with humans or other autonomous physical agents by following social behaviors and rules attached to its role.

Movement categories can include:

  • Stationary with arms
  • Wheeled
  • Legged
  • Swimming

Autonomy categories can include:

  • Pre-programmed, which operate in a simple, controlled environment so that they do not require a great deal in the way of intelligent control systems (“artificial intelligence”) to operate successfully.
  • Autonomous, which operate independently of human operators in environments that are not as tightly controlled as pre-programmed robots. They have “autonomy” because it is ultimately the machine’s responsibility to detect changes in the environment and to adapt to it.
  • Teleoperated, which are controlled remotely by a human being.
  • Augmenting, which are connected directly to the human user’s body, either by theuser gripping the controls in their hand or by having it in contact with the user’s body in some other way.

Design your own robot, by writing a detailed description of its classification, including function, purpose, and features. Also illustrate or build a model of your robot.  Write a story about your robot and how it interacts with people. Needed: bits and bobbins, your choice of materials

Question to consider: how/why does science benefit from creativity/imagination?

 

VI. Rachel Carson

1. Read Rachel Carson : extraordinary environmentalist Wheeler, Jill

Reader’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to video as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Environmentalism

Watersheds

Read Discover the Waters of … (see if there is one available for your area from Project WET) and do activities. Take part in a watershed program from your agricultural extension office.

Take Action

Help your local watershed by joining a park clean-up.

Design and implement your own take action project related to environmentalism.

Question to consider: how can be science become relevant to our daily lives?

 

VII. Marie Curie

1.Read Marie Curie (comic book)

Reader’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to book as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Radioactive

Watch Radioactivity on Youtube (https://youtu.be/azwesgfZ1b8)

Cloud chamber activity (directions bookmarked on tablet)–Dear Blog readers, umm so I can’t find where I saved this so if you find something doable please share.

 

Wrap-up

Read Headstrong : 52 women who changed science–and the world by Swaby, Rachel

  • Choose one scientist to investigate independently.
  • Check the library and internet for resources.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to video as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

Design and implement your own activity to explore your scientist’s area of expertise.

How to: define her area of expertise or a related science topic that you would like to investigate, find a library book or internet resource about that topic and choose an activity or 2 to do, are there writing or art activities you can add?

Share with friends

Have a science playdate. Copies of trading cards, including blank template to attendees. Read your favorite book about a woman scientist. Lead them through the activity that you designed or your fav from the series. Play a game related to activity or another science topic.

 

       Materials Lists

 Books and Videos used in this Lesson

Reproducible Worksheets and Handouts used in this Lesson —Dear Blog readers, I have included two PDFs from my files as noted. The rest are links to PDFs I found online.

Supplies used in this Lesson

General

Paper, blank and lined

Pencil

Notebook

dice

I

Isopropyl alcohol

Droppers

Beakers

Dish soap

Salk

Strawberries

Ziploc bag

Sieve

Spoon

Tweezers

Magnifying glass/microscope

Craft materials?

II

Slides

Wet plates

Dropper

Dye and dropper

Watercolor paper

Brushes

Watercolor paint

Various substances for texture?

 

III

Index card

Coloring pencils

Magnifying glass

IV

Balloons

Pencils

Heavy book

String

Tape

2 ping pong balls

Straw

Cardboard

Scissors

Paperclip

Measuring tape

Colored paper

Ruler

V

2 tooth brushes

Scissors

Double-sided foam tape

2 vibration motors with leads

2 coil cell batteries with leads

Craft materials?

VI

(Dependent on student choice)

VII

????

Wrap-Up

(Dependent on student choice)

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